Travel with love in your heart. A Shutterstock Licensed Image.
When I travel, I love to make life a little less stressful for others. I try to love-up and appreciate everybody I meet, make life lovelier for everyone. Since it’s especially easy to take people in the service industry for granted, I often focus on them. When I’m paying attention, I can feel their efforts and intentions and I feel a deep well of gratitude. I tend to be overly-empathic, which can be debilitating if I’m not careful. To remain in the flow, I reach out to others who appear to need a little love. I often play a game with myself to see how many altruistic things I can accomplish during one travel stint.
I love to help others. I love to make life lovelier. It’s the best addiction.
These are things that I do to upgrade my travel karma:
To help other travelers feel more comfortable and respectable before I leave a bathroom in an airport, bus station, or convention center, I pick up the trash on the floor, wipe down the toilet seat, and alert the janitor of any issues I can’t fix. The little things add up.
A maid’s job is tough, often under-appreciated, and repetitive. Before leaving a hotel room, I roll all the towels into a ball and place them near the door. I put all the trash into one bucket and strip the bed. I throw out the used soap and place the shampoo containers next to the sink. I open a window to bring in the fresh air and I leave a small tip with a cute note with a heart on it.
When at restaurants, I pile my dishes, napkins, and silverware and push them closer to the edge of the table so it’s easier for waitstaff to clear. When I sense a waiter or waitress is stressed or unhappy, I ask them a light-hearted personal question about their family, culture, or jewelry. I try to bring them out of themselves so they can internalize my appreciation. When I sense the waitstaff needs some extra love and attention, I might leave a 200% tip.
If I saw homeless people on the way from the hotel to a restaurant, I remember them when I finish my meal. I box up my left-overs so that nothing is wasted, and I purchase a piece of pie. Putting it all in one bag, I add a little love note.
While exiting the restaurant, I look for the most open and receptive homeless person, I give them the bag, along with a hug. When I witness someone working hard to have hope and express that hope, I love to validate it.
Maids, janitors, shoe-shiners, and floor sweepers tend to be ignored and I believe this affects their well-being. When I see someone working hard to clean or fix something, I give them a smile, share eye contact, or engage them in conversation. I’ve met some of the most loving, profound, and interesting people this way.
I love airports and I am committed to enjoying every aspect of my experience there, as well as make life lovelier for all my fellow travelers. I arrive at security three hours early so I can be friendly, peaceful, and relaxed during the process. When someone near me looks a little freaked out or stressed, I let them go ahead of me. When I see a cranky or disgruntled person, I engage them in conversation with the hope of softening their frustration. I remain alert and friendly with security staff, saying “thank you” as many times as possible.
When entering airport security, I always pre-plan what I’ll put in the trays. I untie my shoelaces so they come off more easily. I put my belt in my travel bag. I make sure my computer bag is unzipped so all I have to do is pull my laptop and drop it into a tray.
If someone near me looks confused, I grab a tray for them and give them encouragement. When exiting airport security, I pick up the left-over trays on the conveyor belts/scanners and put them in the tray holder to make room.
Compassion with Strangers
Travel can be alienating for many people. I like to seek out ways to make life lovelier and nurture others with positive reinforcement. I often seek out the saddest and upset person in a restaurant and I secretly pay for their meal, leaving before the waitress tells them their bill was paid.
If a taxi/Uber/Lyft/rickshaw driver shares a story of hardship and I can feel their pain, I give them a large sum of money and tell them that I love them. I did this in Thailand and the taxi driver squeezed me so hard, we both burst into tears. I often do this in the US with single mothers. Their reactions take my breath away.
When I feel someone’s pain and I am unable to help them in some way, I imagine light shining upon them and I ask the Universe/God to lighten their heart and give them strength.
Let’s all keep an eye out for each other when we travel. A little love goes a long, long way.